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Fredericksburg police release video of taser, pepper spray incident

WASHINGTON — Newly released police body camera videos show a Fredericksburg police officer use his Taser and pepper spray on a motionless, silent driver who was having a medical emergency.

That officer, Shaun Jurgens, resigned from the city police department on May 14. But in a statement to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, Jurgens says he did not violate any policies in the May 4 incident.

However the police department decided that Jurgens’ use of force was not in line with department policies or training.

The department is still reviewing whether the two other officers seen in the videos, Cpl. Matt Deschenes and Sgt. Crystal Hill, will face any departmental charges or reprimands stemming from the incident. They remain on duty, according to the department.

The three officers responded to calls for a hit-and-run and driver traveling in the wrong direction in the northbound lanes of Jefferson Davis Highway near the University of Mary Washington pedestrian bridge.

A Hyundai driven by 34-year-old David Washington hit a Jeep, crossed the median and hit a street sign. The Hyundai eventually stopped in the middle of an intersection.

In the newly released videos, Hill and Deschenes are the first two officers to arrive to the stopped Hyundai. They have their guns drawn and are heard screaming at the driver to put his hands up, sometimes using profanities.

As the two officers yell at Washington, his right arm appears to raise to the steering wheel, but his left arm appears motionless.

Hill yells to Deschenes that she cannot see the driver’s left hand.

When Jurgens arrives, he initially approaches with his gun drawn, then circles behind a police cruiser where he draws his Taser.

When the Taser does not appear to fully connect with Washington, Jurgens pepper sprays Washington’s face. When Washington doesn’t get out of the car, Jurgens and Deschenes pull him out and onto the ground where they put him in handcuffs. Washington can be heard moaning, and saying “I can’t breathe.”

Washington tells the officers that he has been sick for days, but that he does not know what is wrong.

While waiting for an ambulance to arrive, Jurgens helps Washington sit up and allows the driver to lean against him.

Sources tell the Free Lance-Star reports that Washington had a stroke.

Washington has since been released from the hospital and is recovering, according to the police.

In a statement posted by the Free Lance-Star, Jurgens says that he thought at the time that Washington may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In the video, the officers find beer in the back seat of Washington’s car and ask if he’d been drinking. He tells them no.

Jurgens also says he acted to control a situation that he worried would escalate. He noted a nearby elementary school and that rush hour traffic was passing by them. He worried about the risk to motorists. He believes he followed all policies.

Although in the video Washington remains still, Jurgens says he aimed the Taser incorrectly because the driver was moving. He also says the sunlight made it hard to see the red dots that show where the Taser’s prongs will attach.

Charges have been filed against Washington for hit and run, reckless driving and driving on a revoked license. However he has not yet been arrested on the charges, according to police.

 

 

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